By Rehana Incognito
Key Themes: autobiography, emmigration, identity, transgender, sex-professional
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Caught up in the migration boom of the 1960s, the small child moved as a "Ten Pound Pom" for this "better life" promised by her quarrelling parents. From their first new home... a dry, dusty mineral mining town in North Western Australia, Riannon relocated to a small harbour city... already aware of feeling like a fish out of water. After training in hospitality and nursing, as more of her essential self grew and unfolded, she became an exotic dancer... captivating the minds of powerful businessmen across the Far East. In an underworld, alternative community of gay, lesbian, transgender and everthing in between, Riannon followed the standards of others, finding herself exploring every area of the sex industry... from high class escort to internationally intimidating bondage Mistress. She wandered the many twisted, often dirty paths. Her journey, and all those she met, befriended, lost or buried along the way add to the triumph of self discovery and a woman's true worth. Through the eyes of the mysterious, veiled, Unknown Dancer... she became Rehana Incognito, now taking your hand on the journey to that point we can all reach... which started for herself...
... as a little boy.
About the Author
From a coal mining village in the North of England to a mineral mining town in Western Australia, Riannon was dragged by brawling parents as a small child to an unfamiliar, upside down world where her parents had come for a better life in the 1960s. Experiencing incomprensible racism along with an awareness of not fitting in, her world seemed shattered in many directions. Through childhood, teens and into adulthood, she looked at life from many sides... Good or bad, light or dark, power or helpnessness and all it could mean to be male or female. The journey down many of those paths took her through a unique perspective of personal growth and discovery to create her own dance and tune for the person she is today.
Always keeping an open mind of observation, understanding and compassion, she tugged herself from one end of these spectrums to the other. Riannon, who became the celebrated bellydance performer Rehana Incognito, unravelled and absorbed the essence of her own powerfully, respectful femininity through the unfolding steps of Middle Eastern Dance. She now lives in Notting Hill, West London. There, with warmth, humour and hope, she encourages others searching for their centre and true self, either through the confident power of dance or the guidance of a caring hand reaching back in friendship.
Start from the beginning? How far in the beginning? Like - "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God"? Well, perhaps not... of course that's already been used ... in a really big way, so I'll be serious.
Thinking again...it is serious and I'll hope my words don't read as egotistical, let alone alluding to blasphemy for touching near the use of some hugely important opening clues, contained with all that wisdom, in one such Great Book itself. Important enough all the same to think back now how our every word starts us off on a journey to create something, somehow and somewhere in a world where we so often feel like the only animal unknowing of who or what it really is... or even where it fits in. Not just the words which start in our own minds and hearts, but those said to us… those we have gone over and over in a crazy old place we've found ourselves in, building and building, creating and creating whatever kind of world we can make for ourselves.
So... the first things I can remember, however vaguely from the mind of a child? hmmm? I keep thinking of that chintzy song from the 1980s. Oh yeah, "Life in a Northern Town". Now I remember... by the "Dream Academy", of all names. I should have known, and perhaps just noticed, something noteworthy about an academy of dreams!
"In winter nineteen sixty three
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F Kennedy...y...y...
And The Beatles."
Standing in a short, neat row like the rest in our Northumbrian pit village, our little terraced house stood bedecked in snow. Perhaps it did resemble an idyllic, Dickensian Christmas card just somewhat. However, the scene from behind the warmly lit windows was far from anything like Yuletide merriment. The only clinking glass to be heard was sadly, every breakable object in the house being hurled at each other by my brawling parents.
Madly scrambling up the stairs, Karen and I heard the Christmas tree ornaments shatter around us... exploding like fireworks against the wall as we fled. Our bedroom door slammed shut just in time to hear the hallway mirror come crashing down in a million pieces. Huddled with my big sister against the window ledge, we pressed our faces against the frosty glass. Karen said she could see the shape of the Virgin Mary in the patterns of muted light being cast across our bedroom wall.
"Aah divn't know who she is." I whispered, trying to discern anything to even resemble a human being. The flickering forms actually terrified me. They could be the shadows of the gnarled, bony fingers of nasty little hob-goblins whom Karen told me lived under my bed. Every night I would check for them before cocooning myself deep beneath the covers, taking extra care to ensure that my hands were safely tucked away... lest they should be grabbed!
"Ye knaa nowt anyway!" Karen said in her strong Northumbrian accent, pounding a fist down upon my head. We whiled away another night of our parent’s battle time, living out fantasies in a world of toys and Fairy Princesses while the threats, screams and crashes went on and on from below.
Heeding Karen's warning not to go downstairs lest I 'get a hit 'n aall', I listened as every scream from my mother and bellowing yells of my father resounded through my body. Those cries of threats and abuse seemed to scratch themselves deeply into a part of me I could not have known existed. Playing over and over again like the break in a record, they truly were serving the very same purpose - to ruin what should or could have been a beautiful song.
Relief came with a shuddering slam of the front door. Dad had fled. At last I would be able to creep downstairs to find my Mam, perhaps to offer a comforting cuddle and survey the damage. But picking our way down a stairway strewn with shards of glass, we found our mother nowhere in sight. She was off, out that door... after him in the hottest pursuit.
With her fire fuelling a blindly raging inferno, Mam had clearly had enough. An astrologer might well quip - "What more could one expect when the warm, gentle flame of the Aries 'Fire' is fuelled by the wild, wicked wind of the Gemini 'Air'?" My Arian mother had indeed been possessed by Mars, the God of War, as she chased the 'sustenance' of her burning vitality - her Gemini husband. All of which I knew nothing about, though certainly it all came cascading back when the time was ready. (Takes a moment to say a silent prayer to Linda Goodman whose books on her startling, life-long studies of astrology and humanity's beautiful personal connections to all of those "signs" took me through great journeys of understanding like holding the hand of a wonderful friend sent straight from Heaven to gently and humorously show a way for us with such wisdom, strength and care.)
My mum knew too where to find him, licking his wounds, whilst trying to obliterate any memory of the responsibilities of a wife and children. There at the Red Lion, whatever was left of the housekeeping money was about to be squandered again on drink. Now, as an Aries woman myself, I would not like to have been in his shoes when a wife with fire shooting from her eye sockets walked through the door of that pub…
Time, it seemed, would afford opportunity enough for many re-enactments of that scene... in my own life, and in the lives of too many of us. And Time, it seems, affords me now the opportunity to take my turn to hold some hands, to wander through an understanding of many of the conundrums we face and work through in life. In this particular one, it appears, I took on more than many would have signed up for.
As the snow deepened, the faces of weather-weary people must have begun to look longingly at posters springing up here and there.
'COME TO SUNNY AUSTRALIA' they beckoned... with glossy pictures of happy families strolling along palm-lined beaches. A new life, promising jobs in a land of milk and honey began to tempt so many of those lost in the gloom of this miserable winter and economic recession.
Australia enjoyed an economic boom though, with vast mineral deposits being discovered all over the country. New industries spawned everywhere, requiring a vast influx of migrant labour to fuel a growing economy. In this bitter winter the lure was to prove irresistible to millions of families across Europe, including, it seemed... ours.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 27 February, 2008.